Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

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Last minute culture

Mobile phones have changed the world in ways that exhaust and confuse me. Today’s experience is a perfect example.

I made an appointment to meet with a repairman this morning at between 9:00 and 10:00 AM. Because it’s summer, my children got up a bit late, and we had breakfast at around 9:00. I don’t sit around at the breakfast table with my mobile phone or any electronic devices out. In fact, I had no idea where my phone was at that moment. What I knew was that a repairman was coming any moment and I’d have to let him in.

It turned out that this repairman was outside. He was sitting in his car right in front of my house and texting me, calling me, leaving messages. When he heard nothing from me, he decided to drive away and deal with other appointments. This despite being a few yards outside my front door, quite literally in a position to hear me talking beside a wide open window.

Back before mobile phones existed, this man would have come up to the door and rung the doorbell. That’s what I, an old time geezer, expected him to do. But now we’re expected—even when someone is depending on our business—to be tied to our phones, to respond to messages from someone who’s standing outside.

I called him at around 10:00 to find out what’s going on. He asked if I could reschedule today, that all he’d have to do is cancel some afternoon meetings. So, someone else would have to rework their entire day because this man cannot ring a doorbell. He actually said it was against company policy to ring doorbells. The rationalization was more absurd than than a chapter out of Camus. “Sometimes people cancel last minute, and they get angry if you ring their bell.”

Perhaps that’s true. It seems true that, these days, the appointments we make need to be checked five minutes before they’re to occur, because appointments made weeks in advance are only theory. Something better might have come along; someone might have texted us in the meantime to let us know they wanted to take us to something so cool we couldn’t miss it, and that person we spoke to a week or a fortnight before should just understand.

“Hey, are we still meeting today?”

No. We’re not. Thanks for checking.

Here’s a picture of some creatures who’ll show up so soon as you bring them food.